Spending time outdoors is an integral part of living (properly) in the countryside. Any true country folk will hasten to add that this does, however, mean being outdoors in all weather.
This winter was particularly memorable to me for getting a good soaking. Despite working six, sometimes seven day weeks I was lucky enough to have ample opportunity to go beating on my partner’s shoot. One of these days we were hit by glorious sunshine, heavy wind, frantic rain and even snow all in one day.
Of course the past few weeks have proven that even spring and summer time can throw a tantrum when it comes to the weather. The best way to deal with our glorious Great British weather? Stock up on all the countryside essentials, but don’t over-scrimp, it’s quality that will save you here!
This is the perfect time of year to start thinking about those essentials, too, and get yourself prepared for the upcoming season with game and country fairs galore all around the country – perhaps you’ve had the chance to sample some already? I am a huge advocate for a good ol’ game and country fair, with demonstrations, gun dog trials, livestock, gun-makers’ row, proper food (the best pies you’ll ever set your tongue upon!) and the shopping.
This summer I’m going to be on a mission to hunt down a quality but also feminine-looking waterproof coat. FULLY waterproof that is. (A mistake has been made here with previous jackets if you didn’t guess.) This got me thinking though, what are those countryside essentials? Are there some really recommendable brands out there to keep an eye on?
So here it is, my guide to the country folk’s essential kit. (Please note, this was a tough one… what really is essential?! I’ve whittled it down to just a few, for now…)
- Waterproof trousers.
Ah yes, these fellas are absolutely my best friend in winter. This pair are, as the title suggests, waterproof, but they dry unbelievably quickly and don’t get weighed down. They are also like walking around with your legs in a fluffy cloud of fleecey-ness – so, so warm.
Some people like to wear waterproof trousers with gaters over boots to stop water dripping into your wellies, but I am yet to have this problem so just tuck them in my socks and wellies and off I go ready to tackle Niagara Falls.
Now I’m a TEENY-TINY pocket rocket at little more than 5ft so a nice, slim fit was important to not swamp said miniature frame and Seeland ladies waterproof trousers tick this box so well (alas, if only I had longer limbs.)
2. THE hat.
Not just any hat will do here, you need one that ideally is transferable between weather types. And this one sure is. It’s leather and wide brimmed, so keeps the rain off your face and out of eyes, which, let’s be honest, is kind of necessary when working outdoors or on a shoot day. However (!!) it also keeps your face nice and protected in sunny weather if it is one of those temperamental days.
I do have a wax Barbour peaked cap which has also proven useful, if the Crocodile Dundee style isn’t for you (FYI: not my words, courtesy of a friend who does not have the hair to protect, therefore does not appreciate THE hat.)
3. A fleece gilet.
Now I’m lucky enough to have a few Schoffel fleeces in my wardrobe from various occasions. However, it’s the actual garment itself I’m plugging here and, actually, there are some other fantastic brands out there. But do try and check out the more technically-made varieties. Schoffels are made using Polartec so there is method to the madness of the price tag and I can vouch for their effectiveness in the cold and the wind. A full zip and high collar is very underrated and I suggest gilets first and foremost because layering is what gets me through winter. And life.
I do, however, also rate Alan Paine fleece and have my eye on this baby come autumn.
WARNING: dogs may like them just as much…
4. Put your best foot forward.
You may have already seen my post about Aigle and Le Chameau (see it here) so you possibly know my views, but I’ll just say this: if you splash out on one thing, good lord make it be footwear. A decent pair of wellies is an absolute need-to-have and they are genuinely worth forking out a bit extra for because they do the job and they last. And last and last and last (Aigle and Le Chameau are my preference, but then they’re the only brands I’ve had so I am 100 per cent, utterly biased.)
Some people prefer a good pair of boots, my partner has a Harkila pair, another thing to add to the wishlist..!
So there you have it – a guide to country essentials. Well, some country essentials… Country essentials part one perhaps?